CSA distribution # 9 & newsletter

Our next CSA distribution will be Monday May 28 and Thursday May 31. The Memorial Day delivery will happen as usual; crops don’t recognize government holidays. If you plan to be away that day, please especially remember to set a cooler out or otherwise make plans with us. The continued dry, and now increasingly hot, weather is becoming a management issue though we still prefer these conditions to overly wet ones. Flavor starts to become a concern, though, because the cool-weather crops that are maturing now tend to taste better if the temperatures (especially at night) remain on the cool side. Heat brings out bitterness in cool weather crops, and can be especially problematic in lettuce, carrots, and beets. Three new items will be available in this week’s share, with more close behind; read on for more information.

PRODUCE

NEW! Baby carrots
We’ll do a first harvest of young carrots this week. We’d like to let most grow longer, but the recent/current hot & dry conditions are threatening their flavor and quality, so we’re going to get at least some out to CSA members just in case conditions don’t improve. Try this neat recipe for carrot top pesto from Como Homestead; I made some using Missouri pecans and garlic scape pesto and quite liked it.

NEW! Young beets
Same story as the carrots, we’re going to do a first harvest of these to get started on the season before heat ruins them all, too. Shred the roots raw on salads, or in slaws; roast them in olive oil; saute them; use them in soups like chilled borscht (one of my favorites). Beet greens are highly edible, too, used as a salad or cooking green like any other.

NEW! Snap peas (edible pods)
Our first planting of these was looking rather pathetic, and we weren’t expecting enough yield to distribute any. Then, lo and behold, they suddenly went bonkers and yielded enough to surprise Thursday’s members with some for distribution #8. Assuming they keep yielding, the coming share will include these as well. We grow two kinds of snap peas, a quicker-to-maturity bush variety (Sugar Ann) and a longer-yielding pole variety (Sugar Snap). The trick with the Sugar Anns is that they don’t sweeten to their full potential until they get really fat and look slightly overgrown. On a market stand, properly harvested Sugar Snaps will inevitably outsell properly harvested Sugar Anns. But trust us; the slightly bulging peas & pods are amazingly sweet and our overall favorite for flavor. Great on salads, in stir fries, or eaten just as they are (pull the string off first, though).

RETURNING Hakurei Turnips
After a week off, we’ll have another batch of the turnips like those in share #7. These will likely be smaller than before, but still tasty and useful.

Head lettuce
These are growing fast, but like most other items right now are not a big fan of the intense heat we’re expecting (see photo & discussion below), so we’re hoping to move these right along. Some of these may have a strong flavor; let us know if you end up with any concerns. Plan on lots of salads this week; we eat a mixing bowl each of salad once or twice a day this time of year. Restaurants can’t absorb them all as everyone else around here also has tons of lettuce, so we will give you as many lettuce heads as you can eat; please tell us if you want more than the standard offerings.

Radishes
We’re done with the fresh harvest until fall, but have a decent stock of seconds on hand, some with splits or other oddities, all topped for longer storage life. So we’ll offer one more batch of seconds for preservation or just one last round of eating.

Kale
Mustard
Scallions
Saute mix
(last week for this)
Garlic scapes
peak amount this week, ask for extras if you want to preserve some as pesto or otherwise.

HERBS
The produce portion of the share this week is quite diverse, and we’re going to balance it by continuing to back off on herb quantities a bit. Some herbs need a rest. Dill is starting to bolt. Parsley could stand to grow a bit more before regular weekly harvests, but will be back soon.

Cilantro: Maybe. The heat makes it bolt quickly. There’s a small amount that might last through the coming distribution.
Anise hyssop: Limited quantities.
Oregano
Sage: Bundles include some flower stalks as well as leafier stems. Flowers are edible.
Tarragon
Orange mint
Kentucky colonel mint

Garlic chives

Chives
Lemon balm
Catnip

COMING SOON
Swiss chard
Snow peas
Fennel
(just a little)
Kohlrabi
Zucchini

RECENTLY ON THE FARM
This week’s featured word is drought. We still haven’t recorded rain since early May, and at this point need a good, thorough soaking to make any difference. The kind of light rain or quick thunderstorm that can ruin a picnic or golf outing makes little difference agriculturally. In fact, a short but heavy rain after a long dry spell can do more harm than good as it doesn’t soak in but runs right off the sun-hardened ground, eroding soil and sometimes damaging crops while not contributing meaningful deep soil moisture.

It’s not only been quite warm and getting hotter, it’s been a very dry heat that just sucks moisture out of soil and plants. The conditions late this week, with temperatures close to 90ºF with strong southerly winds and low humidity, are hell on plants. We’ll be close to record temps this weekend.

We’ve covered several beds of lettuce heads with shade cloth (above) to help them weather the weather, and will be irrigating like crazy through the weekend to try to keep crops happy. This will create a large water bill, but we prefer the year-round reliability of district water to the cheaper but more uncertain option of well or pond water. We’re certainly not the only farmers dealing with these conditions; our friends down at Happy Hollow Farm  featured drought & irrigation in their CSA newsletter too.

Hopefully some meaningful rain arrives and the temperatures moderate, so we can share the rest of the bounteous late spring crops that are otherwise doing wonderfully.

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